NATEP to fund development of high-entropy alloy powders for Additive Manufacturing

September 23, 2022

A group of organisations led by Metal Powder Emergence Ltd (MPE), headquartered in London, UK, have been awarded funding from the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP) to develop targeted high-entropy alloy (HEA) powders for Additive Manufacturing. An Aerospace Growth Partnership initiative, NATEP is an industry-led programme supporting UK companies in the development of innovative technologies.

High-entropy alloys are novel multi-principal elementals (equimolar) that are alloyed together which have seen increased global interest due to promising material properties. HEAs are said to characterise the cutting edge of high-performance materials. Their high configuration entropy mixing is more stable at elevated temperatures; this allows suitable alloying elements to increase the properties of the materials based on four core effects, which opens up possibilities (e.g., potential structural and high-temperature materials in jet engine applications).

As part of the High-Entropy Alloys Targeted for Additive Manufacture (HEAT-AM) project, MPE and partners LSN Diffusion Ltd, headquartered in Llandybie, Wales, and the University of Leicester (ULEIC) will use a high-throughput screening method for exploring optimal HEA compositions toward industrial applications, such as aerospace sectors.

“To develop promising HEA at an industrial scale, optimal compositions should be explored and tuned for real-world applications,” stated Prof Hongbai Dong from ULEIC. “Due to the large number of possible high-entropy alloy compositions, alloy design methods need to rely on an efficient screening method, replacing the traditional trial-and-error method. In this project, CALPHAD- based (CALculation of PHAse Diagrams) will be used as an efficient selection tool. This will enable rapid screening of potential compositions based on AM conditions”.

Dr Gordon Kerr, CEO of MPE, added: “We are very pleased to have been awarded NATEP funding for this innovative project. By working with our partners, we hope to further develop powder technology and create novel materials which provide improved performance over existing additive manufactured as well as cast parts. NATEP is a great way for innovative companies to come together to develop cutting edge technologies”.

The project has the support of GKN Aerospace. Bradley Hughes, Senior Research Engineer for AM, commented, “The proposed project explores a technology topic that GKN Aerospace recognises as having significant potential opportunity. Such technology could create new capabilities for a number of additive processes. We are enthusiastic to work with you to provide an insight into future industrial needs within the aerospace sector.”

Prof Iain Todd, Director of MAPP EPSRC Future Manufacturing Hub, added, “This is an exciting initiative. High entropy alloys (HEA) offer the potential to provide in-service performance improvements over current generation materials for applications in space and aerospace, leading to potential reductions in cost, energy use and waste generation and is therefore complementary to MAPP. Our two activities working together could enable breakthroughs in future high-value manufacturing”.

Philip Allnatt, LSN Diffusion’s Managing Director, added, “LSN is very pleased to be a part of this project and for the innovative high-entropy alloy powder compositions to be developed using our gas atomisation technology. LSN already produces a range of powders for the AM market and we welcome the opportunity to add this alloy family to our existing range.”

Dr Shiladitya Paul, ULEIC summarised: “HEAT-AM aims to develop novel computer-assisted targeted alloy design approaches, manufacture novel HEA materials for AM. Evaluate material performance against established alloys and develop a road map for industrial scale-up. This approach aims to reduce costs and lead-times for new alloy development for aerospace applications, creating possibilities for the use and deployment of higher-performance materials”.

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